Steering Techniques - Hand-Over-Hand or Pull-Push?
Source: Vernon Chan / CC

The ‘hand-over-hand’ and ‘pull-push’ methods are two steering techniques recommended and approved by driving instructors and transport authorities. But what are the differences and which method should you choose?

Remember - no matter your chosen steering method, your hands should be on the wheel at all times except when using other vehicle controls.

The Differences

As the majority of experienced drivers use a personalised technique that can be a hybrid of both methods based on their personal preference, many people do not know or understand the finer points of each technique.

Because of this, learner drivers often inherent the inefficient steering techniques of their first supervisors. This hybrid method may not be endorsed by the Department of Transport and may result in a failed driving assessment if it is deemed unsafe. For this reason (among many others) Driving Test WA recommends beginning the experience you require on your learner permit with lessons from a licensed driving instructor. Professional instructors can demonstrate the techniques, make a suggestion based on experience and teach you what's required in the Practical Driving Assessment.

Although not an adequate replacement for such professional advice, the video below shows both techniques in action. This comparison shows the differences between the ‘hand-over-hand’ and ‘pull-push’ methods. (The ‘pull-push’ is the first 26 seconds and the ‘hand-over-hand’ the remainder.)

Which is the best steering technique?

The debate about which steering technique offers the best control and safety is far from settled, with both sides making sound arguments without being conclusive overall. Instead of arguing for or against a specific method, Driving Test WA recommends a personal approach:

  • Understand both methods by watching the video above
  • Practice both in a controlled environment to thoroughly test each method
  • Ask a professional driving instructor for their recommendation and to explain their preference
  • Take your personal preference and the recommendation of a professional into consideration when you decide on the steering method for you
  • Choose the method that provides more control and comfort for you

NOTE: Your initial tests using both methods will likely feel a odd and perhaps uncomfortable. This is normal as it's a change from your ingrained driving routine. Persevere with your experimentation beyond the initial discomfort to ensure you give yourself the best chance to choose the right technique for you.

Regardless of the steering technique you eventually choose, remember that

The most important factors in your decision should be comfort and control - regardless of which method you eventually choose. Whether it's ‘hand-over-hand’ or ‘pull-push’, an uncomfortable steering method that leaves you without complete control of a vehicle will probably cause an accident.

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